Chris Cuomo used his comeback to shrug off job-ending sexual misconduct allegations against him as “in the past” — as he admitted that his CNN show later reached out to his accuser to do a puff piece about her new job.
In tetchy exchanges during his sitdown with his new employer, NewsNation, Cuomo, 51, was quizzed by host Dan Abrams about reporting “from The New York Post” that the final issue leading to his CNN ouster “was a claim of sexual assault against you.”
Asked if he knew the identity of his accuser — a former ABC temp who accused him of badgering her for sex during a fake lunch meeting — Cuomo said, “I think I do.”
He then awkwardly admitted his CNN team made contact with her years later for a story for his show at the height of the #MeToo movement.
Cuomo sat uncomfortably with a clenched fist as Abrams read from reports that his accuser “suspected he was concerned about her coming forward publicly with her allegations and wanted to use the proposed segment as an opportunity to ‘test the waters’ and discourage her from going on the record about his sexual misconduct.”
Abrams asked Cuomo about the allegations that he “did a specific segment on TV for the company she was working at to benefit her as a way to keep her quiet.”
“OK,” Cuomo said with a shrug.
Asked if it was “not true,” Cuomo shrugged again as he replied, “It’s for her to explain” — before finally insisting, “It’s absolutely not true.”
Asked if he “did reach out to her,” he admitted, “Yes. Actually, I didn’t, but the show did. And it was a no-brainer segment,” he said dismissively.
“These are things for someone else to explain, not me,” he claimed.
“My feeling is, it’s in the past, I’m never going to be able to convince people one way or another [and] I feed the story by commenting on it.
“I denied it. And you try to move on,” he said.
In fact, Cuomo said he was all too well aware of the traps of talking about it because “a big aspect” of his own job had been about “extending and prolonging drama, not about finding the truth.”
Cuomo said that “it’s been a hard several months” and a “very heavy period for me personally” since he was booted from CNN amid criticism for advising his brother, then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo, on his own sexual misconduct scandal.
“Being number one at CNN was a very proud accomplishment for me and my team,” he said.
Still, he insisted he “didn’t really have” a reaction when he was called in and fired, before conceding it was “really profound not being able to say goodbye to my team — it just being over like that.”
He then admitted that he was effectively dumped by longtime friends like his on-air “brother” Don Lemon as well as Jake Tapper.
“Should they have called me? Of course,” he said when asked about his former colleagues, while insisting, “They’re good people.”
“I cannot blame people for acting on what they’re told,” he said of Lemon and Tapper turning on him after the scandal.